This Journey is dedicated to the

Cure Scleroderma Foundation

to help raise much needed funds, awareness and to help find a cure  to stop the pain and suffering that Scleroderma causes.

 

What is Scleroderma?

Derived from the Greek words “sclerosis” meaning hardness and “derma” meaning skin, scleroderma literally means hard skin. Scleroderma, also known as systemic sclerosis, is a progressive and chronic connective tissue disorder. Some unknown factor triggers the over-production of collagen (body protein) causing thickening, hardening and scarring of the skin and internal organs. Normally collagen keeps the skin soft, but the overproduction makes the affected tissue thick and hard. This, in turn, affects the amount of blood the small vessels carry to many parts of the body.

The most characteristic feature of scleroderma is the presentation of hard, hide-bound thickening of the skin. Less visible but of major importance are the lesions that occur in small blood vessels (vascular lesions), which may involve major organs.

The natural history, or course of scleroderma, varies widely from that of a mild nuisance to a severe multi-system disease.  Forms of the disease that primarily affect the skin without major organ involvement, have better long-term outlook. Those forms of scleroderma that involve major organs, such as the heart and kidney, are potentially more severe with possibly less desirable long-term outcomes.

 

Sign & Symptoms

Scleroderma is a complex disease with many possible symptoms that can affect various parts of the body. It is highly individualized so symptoms and severity differ greatly, ranging from mild to potentially life threatening.

The most characteristic feature of scleroderma is skin thickening or fibrosis. Less visible but of major importance are the tiny lesions that occur in small blood vessels (vascular lesions), which may involve major organs.  Pain, ranging in severity from uncomfortable to debilitating, is a common characteristic of the disease.

Other common symptoms may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Raynaud's Phenomenon:  A condition in which the small blood vessels of the hands or feet contract in response to cold or anxiety. As the vessels contract, the hands or feet turn white and cold, then blue. As blood flow returns, they become red.

  • General fatigue

  • Inflammation of the muscles (i.e. polymyositis)

  • Swelling, then skin thickening (i.e. fibrosis) or tightness, particularly in the hands

  • Joint or bone aching

  • Stiffness of hands and feet

  • Skin discoloration

  • Heartburn

  • Swallowing difficulties

  • Dry mucus membranes

  • Calcium deposits under the skin

  • Unexplained ulcers on fingers or toes

  • Shortness of breath

  • Bowel dysfunction

For more information on scleroderma, visit scleroderma.ca

To donate to the Cure Scleroderma Foundation, click here.

All proceeds will benefit the Canadian Scleroderma Research Group of the Jewish General Hospital

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